CLASS OF 1997 | 2021 | ISSUE 1

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Dear ’97ers, A year into the COVID-19 pandemic, we are endlessly moved, touched, broken, buoyed, impressed, humbled and inspired (on some days, all at the same time). We send all of our best wishes to all of our classmates and to your friends and families, and wish you the best of health and kindness.

   Maria Hipps wrote in with wonderful notes about Wes alums staying connected and supporting each other, even if over Zoom. Yay connecting and reconnecting! In December, in celebration of Nicole Rodriguez Leach’s birthday and as a fundraiser for a charity of her choice, a group of Wes alums Abdul Latif, Semeka Smith-Williams, Marysol Castro ’96, Dolores Concepcion, Benny Vasquez, Andrea DeJesus, and Maria Mirabal Hipps all gathered via Zoom to virtually cook paella and make coquito with renowned Chef Leen. Maria writes that “It was such a fun night of laughs; recalling special Wes memories and temporarily forgetting about the global pandemic that has held us hostage for a year. Fun was had by all and we have since kept the party going via periodic ‘check in’ group texts. We are a testament to the fact that the Wes connection only grows stronger post graduation.” We join Maria in wishing Nicole a happy birthday and the best on her PhD journey!

     We would like to congratulate Angela Yee for her induction into the Radio Hall Of Fame! She was celebrated for the nationally syndicated morning show The Breakfast Club with Charlamagne tha God and DJ Envy. For a full list of 2020 inductees, including Cokie Roberts, see radiohalloffame.com. Maria writes that Angela is also hosting Wealth Wednesday seminars to promote financial literacy, opened a new business in Detroit called Private Label and helped launch a new premium specialty coffee called Coffee Uplifts People (CUP) all while owning a successful juice bar—Juices For Life in Brooklyn. Congratulations, Angela!

     Lucria Ortiz is the CEO for the YMCA Yonkers. She amazes us all. Lucria organized food drives, distributed PPE, and ensured the YMCA resources continued to be available for the most vulnerable within the Yonkers community. Carry on, Lucria, wow! We are so proud and impressed.

     Alek Lev is producing the podcast Meeting Tom Cruise for iHeartRadio and Dan Patrick Productions, with hilarious interviews between guests who’ve met him and hosts who’d love to. One day.

     We are very sorry to write that our dear classmate Seth Spector passed away this February. Seth was a kind friend, amazing athlete, and after Wesleyan and Columbia Teacher’s College, a great mentor and coach to many. We share and send deepest condolences to his family and friends.

JESSICA SHEA LEHMANN | jessica.lehmann@gmail.com

SASHA LEWIS REISEN | alewisreisen@gmail.com